Sustaining Indigenous Languages and Culture Through Literature

Jacqueline N. Flavian-Obasi, Bethel C. Obiyor


There is no doubt that the status of English as a second language in the Nigerian social space was defined from the perspective of functionality right from the outset of its introduction. Apart from its official language status, the English language has assumed a mediatory role in bridging inter-ethnic relationships above the diverse ethnicities in Nigeria while inadvertently strangling the growth of Nigeria’s indigenous languages. Part of the efforts at sustaining and resuscitating the indigenous languages has been to develop literatures in them and /or include texts from these languages in literatures written in English. There are literary works in some of Nigeria’s indigenous languages, but these are limited when compared to the number of literature in English. In this paper, we seek to investigate how the cultural elements of the Igbo language are fused and re-created in Adichie’s collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck. Adichie has used the English language as a medium for giving zest to her narratives, thereby redefining or rather amplifying the role of the language as a bearer of the burden of her socio-cultural experiences. We rely on Giles and Johnson’s Ethnolinguistic identity theory (1987) and pragmatics to ascertain how literature re-echoes cultural revival through the interplay of languages.


Language, Culture, Literature, Pragmatics, Ethnolinguistic

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